Late Monday evening, the BCS National Championship departed from this earth at the young age of 15 years old. It is survived only by it’s son; a four team playoff format (rather generically named, “College Football Playoff“) that will debut following the 2014 NCAA regular season. While loved by some and hated by an absurdly larger audience, it did give fans of college football quite a few lasting memories. Some of them were good. Some of them were bad. And yet, some of them were downright fantastic. But needless to say, the BCS National Championship made an impression on everyone it met.
Born in Tempe, Arizona as the only child to the Bowl Coalition and the Bowl Alliance in January of 1999, the BCS National Championship entered the world with enthusiasm and a breath of fresh air in response to what had been a rather stale process. Before its birth, national championships were often determined about teams that rarely actually met each other on the field of play. At least when the BCS came along, a formidable top two teams played to determine a champion. Despite this, it still leaves college football fans with mostly bad memories. That is, if they even have memories. So to start, here are some BCS National Championship games that fans may not remember too well.
The ones you may not remember:
The 2001 BCS National Championship bored everyone to tears — Well, everyone not living in the greater Oklahoma area. In a rather slow-paced and defensively-heavy title game, the Oklahoma Sooners defeated Florida State 13-2. Those two points for the Seminoles didn’t even occur until the final minute of the game and the only touchdown of the night came after 52 minutes and 14 seconds of play.
In 2002, the BCS National Championship delivered another blowout when the Miami Hurricanes dismantled the Nebraska Cornhuskers by the score of 37-14. That may not sound too bad, but the Hurricanes took a 34-0 lead into halftime. Yes, it really was that bad.
The 2007 BCS National Championship resulted in yet another blowout game as the Florida Gators trounced the Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14. And other than Boise State finishing undefeated and left out of title considerations yet again, there was little to remember about it.
While, the 2008 BCS National Championship marked the first time two previous BCS Championship teams met to play for the title, the game was pretty much decided by halftime as LSU defeated Ohio State 38-24. In the second half, Ohio State just didn’t have enough in the tank to get within more than 14 points.
From bad calls to regular season chaos, there were games that featured more to dislike about them, than there was to like about them.
The ones you wish you didn’t remember:
In 2004, things just went absolutely crazy, but many may not remember the game much at all. What they do remember is the season chaos leading up to it. The LSU Tigers defeated Oklahoma in a mildly entertaining 21-14 game. However, the controversy came when members of the Associated Press awarded their national title to the USC Trojans, who like Oklahoma and LSU, had entered the bowl season with only one loss. Since many considered them to be #2 behind Oklahoma entering the postseason, they only thought it logical to vote LSU the national champion. For that reason, the 2003-2004 college football season ended with the only split national championship of the BCS era.
The seventh BCS National Championship was decided with yet another boring game as USC rolled on Oklahoma 55-19. But the events leading up to that game were rather exciting as five teams (USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Boise State and Utah) had finished the regular season unbeaten and all had legitimate claims to a crack at the BCS National Championship. But since the Auburn Tigers, Boise State Broncos and Utah Utes started the season outside the top 15, they just couldn’t rise enough in the polls to catch USC and Oklahoma.
The 2012 BCS National Championship might just be the one college football fans hated the most. Come to think of it, 2004 might still rank higher on that list, but this one was certainly up there. Controversy surrounded the game as the BCS chose two schools from the same conference (LSU and Alabama) to meet in the National Championship Game despite having already met earlier in the season. To add insult to injury, the game was rather boring and lop-sided as Alabama drubbed LSU 21-0. For LSU it was a punch to the gut because they had already beaten Alabama earlier in the season, but were being required to do it again in order to have the title. Meanwhile, Alabama only needed to beat LSU once to earn the crown. Those that already had disdain for the recent dominance of the Southeast Conference were driven further away from it as a result of this game.
In 2013, the BCS National Championship game had a lot fighting against it. There had already been rumors swirling of playoff plans coming down the pike in the near future and then the whole Manti Te’o storyline unfolded, drawing further focus away from the game on the field. Add to it the hype that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were attempting to win their first National Championship since 1988 and the expectations were at an all time high. But that didn’t last long. Alabama ran away with the game in a 42-14 win.
But despite all that has gone awry with the BCS, it has still provided some occasional moments of magic that college football fans will remember with excitement and joy. And despite its bad reputation, the BCS may have more good to remember than bad.
The ones everyone will remember:
Everyone remembers their first experience with something new. This was no different for the BCS. The BCS National Championship entered the world with high hopes and a decent first impression on college football fans. With a thrilling game in front of 80,470 spectators, the Tennesee Volunteers downed the Florida State Seminoles 23-16 in a game that had fans enthralled until the final moments.
In its second year, the BCS National Championship didn’t fare too badly, either. Despite a final score of 46-29, Florida State trailed the Virginia Tech Hokies 29-28 heading into the fourth quarter and reeled off 18 unanswered points to win the game.
The 2003 BCS National Championship was what many consider to be one of its finest moments. In double overtime, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the defending champion Miami Hurricanes 31-24 to end a 34-game winning streak for Miami. Of course, that game contained a controversial pass interference call to set up the touchdown that would send the game to the second overtime. While some will point to that call as a reason to call it a bad memory, most will still remember it as the phenomenal teeter-totter of a game that it was.
The college football world made it easy for the BCS National Championship in 2006 as USC and the Texas Longhorns were the only undefeated teams at the time of selection. Thus, it was a no-brainer to pit them against one another in the title game. The reward was a matchup of epic proportions. In what many consider one of college football’s greatest games of all time, the underdog Longhorns defeated the Trojans in a back-and-forth tilt that was decided with 19 seconds left in the game. It featured two Heisman Trophy winners on the same team (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush for USC) against a player that several thought was more deserving of Bush that season (Vince Young) for the other team. Needless to say, it was one of the BCS National Championship’s finest moments.
The 2009 edition of the BCS National Championship featured a gutsy performance from a running back and a battle of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks as Florida took down Oklahoma 24-14. After Percy Harvin said he was “90 percent” before the game in his recovery from a hairline fracture to his ankle, the dual-threat freshman ended up with 122 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards. Meanwhile, 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passed for 231 yards while rushing for another 109. On the other side of the ball, Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, started at quarterback for the Sooners.
In 2010, the Alabama Crimson Tide took down Texas in what appeared to be a 37-21 blowout on the surface. However, Texas had lost starting quarterback Colt McCoy early in the contest to injury and fallen behind by 18 at the half. With a little more than six minutes remaining in the game, Texas had pulled within three. Only after two quick scores late in the final minutes, did the Crimson Tide pull away.
For the third straight year, the BCS National Championship provided a gem, with the Auburn Tigers beating the Oregon Ducks on a field goal as time expired to win 22-19. Oregon had just tied the game at 19 with a hair over two minutes remaining when the Tigers marched 73 yards downfield to the Oregon one yard line to set up the game-winning field goal.
In what was the BCS National Championship’s “swan song,” the game provided one last glimpse of greatness. Like the teams it represented, the BCS National Championship went out as a champion, providing one last brilliant contest. After falling behind early 21-3, Florida State battled back to win against Auburn by a final score of 34-31 to close out an undefeated season and an SEC winning streak of seven straight BCS National Championship games.
All this to say, the BCS National Championship had its highs and its lows. But overall, it left one lasting and final memory for fans to cling to. Like the last bite of a perfectly-cooked steak dinner, it left us something to savor . . . to chew on . . . to really enjoy.
But that probably won’t last long. BRING ON THE PLAYOFFS!!